When it comes to the shelf life of most foods, there are a lot of dates to remember. Best-by, sell-by, use-by, and when all else fails (like when the expiration date wipes off), there’s always the good ol’ sniff test. Here are nine pantry items that keep indefinitely so you can enjoy them whenever.
Thanks to the magic handiwork of bees (they have special enzymes that basically inhibit bacterial growth) and the way it’s processed for storage, honey is the longest lasting of the bunch. Keep the container tightly sealed to avoid crystallization, but if your honey hardens, just place the jar in a bowl of warm water and stir gently until it melts.
Because of its high acidity, a big bottle of white, distilled vinegar will remain unchanged until the very last drop. Which is a very good thing considering we use it for every salad dressing, recipe and stain solution ever.
You know that fancy bottle of whiskey that’s been collecting dust in your cabinet since last Christmas? You can take a swig of the stuff whenever you want. Keep it stored in a cool, dry place and it will likely outlive you.
But none of that imitation stuff. Just the pure, 100 percent real extract that flavors all of our favorite desserts. Turns out, its alcoholic content keeps it fresh (and fragrant) forever.
Dried legumes are the gift that keeps on giving. They pack a ton of protein and fiber, have a lengthy shelf life and—unlike their canned counterparts—are low in sodium.
White, wild, jasmine or basmati—most rice keeps for years. (Just make sure to store your grains in a tightly sealed container so pesky little bugs don’t get in.) The only exception is brown rice, which has natural oils in it that cause it to go rancid faster.
Remember the periodic table of elements? Well, salt, or sodium chloride, is a naturally occurring mineral found in the earth. So it’s not a huge surprise that this seasoning stays fresh. Iodization, however, reduces the shelf life to about five years, so stick to kosher or sea salt.
And on the opposite end of the taste spectrum, sugar—white, brown or even powdered—never spoils because it doesn’t support bacterial growth. You may have to soften it from time to time (with a marshmallow) as it does tend to dry out easily.
Whenever you’re desperate for a caffeine fix (aka always), it’s good to know that the plastic container of Maxwell House in your cabinet is always a safe bet. Unlike freshly ground beans, instant coffee has no moisture in it. So it’s literally good to the last drop.
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